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The Sins Of Jesus


Neon Genesis
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The orthodox belief among fundamentalist Christians is that Jesus was the perfect son of God who while tempted by sin knew no sin himself and was completely perfect. Even among many liberal Christians, Jesus is still seen as one of, if not, the greatest moral sage of all time with most of the criticism towards the NT directed rather unfairly to Paul. While I find many of Jesus' teachings to be inspiring and thought-provoking, like the beatitudes, the teachings to love your enemies instead of seeking vengeance, and his parables, I also find much of Jesus' actions and teachings to be very troubling. I think one of the most troubling of Jesus' teachings for me is his teachings on divorce. According to the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew's gospel, Jesus taught that all divorce was a sin expect in cases of adultery and even if you got a divorce, all remarriage was also a sin because remarriage was considered adultery. I grew up in the Church of Christ and we took this teaching very literally and it was interpreted to mean that even if your spouse was abusing you, it was still sinful to divorce them and you could only divorce if they cheated on you and you had to remain single for the rest of your life. While I think it's wrong to divorce over frivolous reasons and I think divorce can be harmful, I think it's even more harmful for Jesus to insist that you should stay with an abusive spouse and your only hope out of an abusive relationship is if you can catch your partner cheating on you, but then you have to spend the rest of your life alone. I also think Jesus' teaching on lust, that thinking a sex act in your head is the same thing as doing it to be far too dogmatic and impossible to follow. I don't think this verse can be blamed on Jesus' Jewish culture either because Jesus here was making Jewish views on divorce stricter than it was.

 

When I was growing up as a teen, I was always taught to believe that masturbation was a sin because Jesus said lusting in your heart was a sin. But growing up gay, it was impossible to resist the temptation and I thought Jesus hated me because I couldn't resist thinking sexual thoughts. Jesus' view on sex may have made sense in a time where we didn't have comprehensive sex ed and condoms but taken in a modern context, they're unrealistic at best and psychologically unhealthy at worst. In Luke chapter 12, Jesus seems to approve of the barbaric practice of slavery.

That slave who knew what his master wanted, but did not prepare himself or do what was wanted, will receive a severe beating. 48But one who did not know and did what deserved a beating will receive a light beating. From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.

 

There's also many passages in the gospels where Jesus frankly behaves rather hypocritically. He condemns the rich young ruler for not selling all his positions to the poor but keeps an expensive perfume a woman gives him for himself and brushes off the poor as being inferior to honoring himself. Numerous times Jesus is seen disobeying his parents or talking back to them which violates his own teachings to honor your parents. He runs off on his own to go debate religion with the Jewish leaders in the temple when he was a teen and doesn't even have the courtesy to let his parents know. When his mother asks him to help out with the wedding at Cana, he just brushes her like a pest. Jesus also bizarrely curses a fig tree simply for doing what God created it to do. I was always taught the reason God became human was so that we could relate to him better but I could never relate to Jesus because it always seemed impossible to meet up to his standards and to relate to someone who never sinned. But while find some of the teachings of Jesus to be immoral and some stories to be troubling, I think Jesus is more inspiring if you accept him as a human who sinned just like the rest of us. Do you think Jesus was a sinner and do you find this troubling to your faith or do you find it more inspiring to look at him as flawed?

Edited by Neon Genesis
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Just time for a quick quote, which seems appropriate. A few lines from Blake's "Everlasting Gospel"....

 

What can this Gospel of Jesus be?

What Life & Immortality,

What was it that he brought to Light

That Plato & Cicero did not write?

The Heathen Deities wrote them all,

These Moral Virtues, great & small.

What is the Accusation of Sin

But Moral Virtues' deadly Gin?

The Moral Virtues in their Pride

Did o'er the World triumphant ride

In Wars & Sacrifice for Sin,

And Souls to Hell ran trooping in.

The Accuser, Holy God of All

This Pharisaic Worldly Ball,

Amidst them in his Glory Beams

Upon the Rivers & the Streams.

Then Jesus rose & said to Me,

"Thy Sins are all forgiven thee."

Loud Pilate Howl'd, loud Caiphas yell'd,

When they the Gospel Light beheld.

It was when Jesus said to Me,

“Thy Sins are all forgiven thee.”

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Yes, Spong emphasizes that Jesus was a human just like us but born in an earlier time. Something about this human caused a transformation which, with the help of Paul, the Roman empire, and Constantine became the greatest(!!??)religion. Our views of Jesus are so distorted that I don't think we can even discern if he was a sinner or not.I have done lots of reading and I think I am more confused about this man called Jesus than ever.

Kay

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Yes, Spong emphasizes that Jesus was a human just like us but born in an earlier time. Something about this human caused a transformation which, with the help of Paul, the Roman empire, and Constantine became the greatest(!!??)religion. Our views of Jesus are so distorted that I don't think we can even discern if he was a sinner or not.I have done lots of reading and I think I am more confused about this man called Jesus than ever.

Kay

 

Yes, I too did quite a lot of reading, searching for the so called "Jesus of History". Like you, I gave up amid all the confusion and conflicting "evidence".

 

Sadly, more often than not, the "Jesus of Faith", the Jesus of the Church, is transformed into a "narrow way", and - at least to my eyes - into a salvation dependent upon acceptance of a theological scheme built upon a collection of various New Testament verses. So the gift - and the pure freedom - of divine Mercy and Grace (which blows where it will) is replaced by our own "work" of acceptance.

 

What follows is the inevitable separation of those who have accepted from those who have not.

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Do you think Jesus was a sinner and do you find this troubling to your faith or do you find it more inspiring to look at him as flawed?

 

I think that a character in a book can be whatever you wish it to be. I'm not sure that when they decided to make Jesus "sinless" that it was overall good for the story. Everyone likes a hero with a flaw.

 

NORM

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My answer is yes. I feel the person engrossed in pure consciousness even pain is fruitful, for all things work together for the good of the whole even sin is a commitment to greater love because it humbles bringing out the best. It shows how the ego will act contrary to the will of God so a person will rise above sin by turning to pure consciousness then it seems God acts as if the sin had never been committed. God’s consciousness is in the present so He would never let former sins count against a person. God accepts people not for what they have been, but for what they are now. Sin is just a way to bring man to a better knowledge of his love and make him more determined to struggle for pure consciousness.

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My answer is yes. I feel the person engrossed in pure consciousness even pain is fruitful, for all things work together for the good of the whole even sin is a commitment to greater love because it humbles bringing out the best. It shows how the ego will act contrary to the will of God so a person will rise above sin by turning to pure consciousness then it seems God acts as if the sin had never been committed. God's consciousness is in the present so He would never let former sins count against a person. God accepts people not for what they have been, but for what they are now. Sin is just a way to bring man to a better knowledge of his love and make him more determined to struggle for pure consciousness.

 

Although I wouldn't use the terminology "sin," because I don't think bad things are a punishment from G-d, I do agree with you that traumatic events in our lives can be a catalyst for positive change. Of course, this depends on the extent of the trauma. There are some things that just plain suck and there is nothing one can do about it.

 

I don't think that G-d considers our actions as either good or bad. G-d, in my view, is the catalyst for all beginning, but remains uninvolved. We're on our own in this life. So, that makes it all the more important to try and learn from life's challenges.

 

As to the notion of G-d being in the present, my Jewish family illustrates this principle during Yom Kippur service. At the midway point of the ceremony, we are reminded that G-d so completely forgives our failures that they are "as far as the east is from the west." A Rabbi once illustrated this concept by having us all write down a list of transgressions on little slips of paper. We held onto these lists throughout the Kol Nidre and at the end of the service he led us out behind the synagogue to a little brook and had us deposit our missives into the water and watch as they traveled "as far as the east is from the west." It was a very powerful illustration of the concept you describe.

 

NORM

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I'd like to reply to the original post and say that you are not the only person who has difficulties with these teachings of Jesus. As I have read in search of how I could follow Jesus when some of his teaching do not make sense to me, I have come across several different themes.

 

Jesus was a product of his time, speaking to people of his time (regarding slavery, masturbation, divorce, etc. For example, masturbation when you wanted to grow the numbers of your race is counter-productive, but we don't need to do that anymore).

 

Jesus spoke a lot in hyperbole to emphasize a point (he didn't really mean we should blind ourselves, but rather he was making a point about how our eyes can lead us down the wrong path). In the case of masturbation, the question would be whether it is in someway harming my relationship with another who could be benefitting from physical intimacy.

 

Jesus wasn't providing a model for each of us about how to relate to our family --rather he was fulfilling His purpose in life, which did not include the same importance of his earthly family as I have.

 

I have heard other things regarding Jesus' "righteous" anger at the fig tree. But the point is... these are parts of the Bible that many struggle with and some make (IMO) lame attempts to explain away. The fact is that the person of Jesus would probably offended me at times if he were alive today, and I would need to look at the parts of His teaching that offended me and see if it was an issue I needed to work on, or something that didn't relate to me at this point in my life. I find it admirable that the Bible did not just whitewash these stories of Jesus that are puzzling. It gives those of us who need one an intellectual challenge to our faith.

 

Jesus was obviously "larger than life" and we only have what was "officially" recorded about him. In my heart I know Jesus wants us to focus on the ideas that

 

Glorifying God should be of greater importance than pleasing people.

Even if the world rejects you, God will always love you. You are worthy of love.

When you feel alone, God is with you, and there is hope.

If you feel you need to be forgiven, but people won't give you grace, God will

Treat others the way you want to be treated, even when that's difficult

Be intentional in your actions, through prayer and heart-felt consideration

Try to resolve problems between yourself and others

Sometimes great learning comes from struggle

Work diligently to make the world a better place and help those who need it.

LOVE is the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to God but through LOVE.

 

 

Enough, already! Sorry for the tome...

 

Janet

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